Friday March 20th
Another cold day in Round Lake, not at all spring-like.
Tonight, we have a dinner with SABA members.
Tomorrow is the big day.
Aaron and I went out for lunch and met up with Pat, then went to another bee yard to check hives. Losses were high there, too, with starvation being the most common cause, followed by queen failure.
Aaron and I returned to Aaron's and Karen showed up shortly after. She stayed a while to chat, then left and Dick came by. He followed us out to the dinner location, running a red light along the way to keep up, as Aaron was distracted and did not notice the light changing, as he passed through on amber and Dick had no way to find his supper if he lost us.
We all arrived without further incident and had an excellent supper and a good visit. We had three tables of beekeepers in a quiet room upstairs in the pub.
I ordered malbec and the bottle said malbec, but it was cabernet sauvignon. I knew it, and knew that cabernet sauvignon sometimes gives me insomnia, but drank several glasses anyhow and that explains why I am writing this at 2 AM, hoping to get back to sleep soon.
I remember now that there were a lot of dregs in my glass, and in Aaron's so the bottle of wine was probably not the best.
Stoop and you'll be
stepped on; stand tall and you'll be shot at.
Saturday March 21st 2015
Today is the SABA meeting.
My first talk went well, but I had not realized that I was doing the windup speech and had a pretty heavy topic listed as the second: 'Myths', as discussed in the forum previously. I considered pulling it and running a feel-good slide show, but was not really prepared to make the switch and went ahead with the Myths talk. As jack predicted, I ran short of time and had to slip past some of the slides, but got it done. Nobody left early and we had a question after, but I think the audience was a bit in shock. That was a lot to digest.
After, a bunch of us went out for supper. I had lasagna and three glasses of malbec. This time the wine was good, but it was more like a cabernet again than malbecs I am accustomed to.
We returned home and I went to bed early. Again, I slept restlessly and woke up for an hour or two in the middle of the night and sat up a while before I could get back to sleep. I just can't drink red wines too many days in a row.
We always like
those who admire us; we do not always like those whom we admire.
Sunday March 22nd 2015
Well, it is over and I am thinking: where next? I've been away almost a month and think that Swalwell should be my destination on Tuesday.
Aaron and I met Karen for breakfast at the Malta Diner -- Pat could not be reached -- and then returned home for an hour before we were to meet Karen again to visit hives.
I took the opportunity to book a flight home, leaving at 0630 Tuesday and arriving just before noon. Tuesday is the 24th and I'll have been gone almost a month -- I left home for Antigua on the 26th of last month -- and it is time to get back.
Karen left for her course and Aaron and I drove north to Elaine's to check the top bar hives and, sure enough, they were dead: starved out. IMO, these hives are too small to house the kind of populations and the amount of stores needed to winter well in the north.
Next, Aaron and I went cell phone shopping, first at AT&T, then Wal-Mart. We did not buy anything. I don't want to buy in the States as warranty could be a problem.
We returned to Aaron's and killed the rest of the afternoon napping and catching up then met Pat and Karen for supper at Pandera, then parted ways. They are headed to their homes and I'm at Aaron's for another day.
I've had a touch of sore throat the past two days and avoided drinking anything alcoholic today. In the evening, Aaron put on "Whiplash' and after watching a bit of it decided that I would benefit much more from sack time than watching some abusive band leader curse and manipulate young people to some predictable happy ending that is appears to justify the whole bad experience, and went to bed early. I share this opinion of the movie.
but wisdom lingers.
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Monday March 23rd 2015
I slept until 0745 and awoke refreshed after about ten hours of sleep. The slight soreness in my throat has vanished.
Karen sent some pictures from yesterday. If anyone was worried that I am not getting enough to eat, be assured, I am well-fed, as you can see here.
Aaron and I are hoping to look at some more hives today, but it is still very cool and breezy.
At home, the pond has re-frozen, but warmer weather is expected shortly after I get home.
We'll have leftover corned beef and cabbage for supper, probably watch some video and crawl in early. I have to be at ALB by 0530 tomorrow, so I'll pack and get ready.
Tomorrow night, God willin' and the cricks don't rise, I'll sleep in my own bed again. As much as I like travel and being away, it will be good to be home and nice to look into my own hives for a change.
I went to bed early, but slept fitfully and awoke around midnight to the realization that I had not checked in for my flight. I tried online, but could not, since United requires a cell phone with their app to scan passports, so I decided to leave an hour earlier than I had planned in the morning to be sure to make the cutoff.
Nothing in the
world is so powerful as an idea whose time has come.
Tuesday March 24th 2015
It is 0518 and I am sitting in the Gate 5 departure lounge at ALB, having gotten up at 0300, packed, and left 37 George Avenue at 0400.
There was no line and I cleared the security in moments, had breakfast at McDonalds and found my gate within fifteen minutes after being dropped off. I'd like to snooze, but worry I might miss the boarding call.
Maybe I'll read some back pages in my diary and see what I did last spring about this time and in previous springs. It is now a half-hour until boarding and an hour until take-off. Next stop: Chicago.
* * * * *
Now, at 0947 local, I am sitting, waiting at gate C6 at ORD for United to find a crew to fly the plane which should be leaving right now.
Oh! They found them and we are now boarding.
We boarded and found the plane is a Brazilian regional jet. It was quite new and quiet. The flight went well and we arrived on time.
I walked out of the airport and Mike was just making his first circle through the airport drive and I got in. We had agreed on this method of meeting since I had no phone.
We drove to Airdrie where I picked up four boxes of the new 25% Global patties (Canada USA) and then drove Costco for groceries, and to CrossIron Mall where I went to the Koodo kiosk and was given a new $350 phone at no upfront cost to me. (no two-year contract either).
After much deliberation, I chose the nexus 5. The Nexus 4 had been such a good phone, I figured this was the best choice -- unlocked, pure Android, and with Gorilla Glass 3.
At the kiosk, we turned it on to test the new SIM and immediately were offered system updates. It came with Android 4.4.3 and first went to 4.4.4, then 5.1! This took an hour over their wireless.
5.1???? Wow, Last I heard, the newest version was a reputed 5.0.2. As it happens, I stumbled onto the first day release of 5.1 and bought the first phone to receive it. More expensive phones are still waiting for 5.0 (Lollipop).
I drove home and turned up the heat, then ate and watched video for an hour and went to bed at 2100. I had been up since 0300 EDST.
Be kind, for
everyone you meet is fighting a harder battle.
Wednesday March 25th 2015
I was up at 0500 and had breakfast, then installed all my apps on the phone. That is easy from Google Play on my laptop, but not as easy as it should be. The phone is everything I had hoped and runs well, does not seem to use as much battery as some early reports indicated and is easy to use.
I've been away just less than four weeks now and I'll spend the day catching up, opening mail and paying bills. I'll try to get outside, too. The weather is lovely and the day is predicted to be warm, with the coming week expected to be even warmer. As long as there is little wind, seven degrees Celsius is just fine for working on bees.
0921: I killed the first few hours of the day sorting mail and playing with the phone, plus reading various articles that Google Now found for me. Mostly a waste of time, actually, but fun. This new phone is excellent. I think I made the right choice.
I went out for a brief walk through the hives and lifted a few lids. The temperature is only plus seven Celsius, but the bees are flying and cleaning out.
So far, losses do not look too bad and many hives are flying from as many as three boxes.
In looking for Henry Pirker's study, which seems to be nowhere on the 'net, but perhaps available from ABJ, I came across the article below, written fifteen years ago on BEE-L. Of course the links are obsolete, but the thoughts are just as valid today as back then.
Click here to read the thread in the BEE-L archives.
Here is another contribution.
People wonder why I don't bother with BEE-L anymore. Besides issues with moderation which allows abuse and stalking on the list in spite of my best efforts in the past, I have said everything I have to say -- many times -- and to (mostly) deaf ears.
I drove to Oram's for supper. It is an hour and a half trip and I drove straight through, arriving at 1710.
We had supper and then went for the usual walk to the lake and back. There is still snow in the playground, but Nathan and I played on the swings and he went down the slide a few times.
A story to me means
a plot where there is some surprise.
Thursday March 26th 2015
I'm at Orams this AM and will be driving home shortly. I have company -- the usual suspects -- for supper tonight.
At right is a good hive, and fairly typical. With temperatures at fifteen Celsius (sixty degrees Fahrenheit), they are flying from all four boxes and have cleaned the floor. Dead bees from the winter can be seen piled out front. See how clean the floor is? The bees did that, not me.
I hate to bother a hive like this, even to add patties and Apivar. They are doing just fine and will make at least three splits if they continue to prosper, but not until May. To split them earlier would set them back.
I will, however give them patties and treatment, but with as little disturbance as possible. The problem is, however, that the brood may extend down through several boxes and may not even be in the top box. Apivar should be close to brood.
My friends came over and we had a fun evening.
It's a little
embarrassing that after 45 years of research & study,
Friday March 27th 2015
I slept until 0930 today. The day is another warm one and I could bother the bees, but think I will give them a few warm days to arrange their nests before invading their space.
I wrote to ABJ for the Henry Pirker articles and was delighted that they sent me PDF copies of both. I am asking for permission to post them since they are not available anywhere on the Internet that I could find.
The matter of particular interest to me is humidity since in my opinion, many beekeepers over-ventilate their hives, making life difficult for their bees. I did a quick search and it seems that 40% RH is what the bees try to maintain in the brood area and that can be difficult in cold weather when the outside RH drops drastically on the prairie. That drops even more when that air is warmed to cluster temperatures.
ABJ was quick in granting permission, so here they are, with credit to The American Bee Journal and of course the author, the late Henry Pirker.
While I am at it, here is an excellent wintering article of interest by Adony.
Zippy (she came home last night with Ruth) and I took a stroll out to look at the hives. So far in the north hives, I see one dead-out for sure in the thirty-five or so hives that are there. It is obvious from the robbing stains (right).
There is some active robbing out there now, as I found myself greeted and followed as I walked through the yard in short sleeves and shorts. I lifted a few lids on what looked like weaker hives, but they all seem to have good clusters. If there are any weak sisters in the bunch, the robbing should eliminate them in the coming few days.
I intend to do some alcohol washes or maybe put on some screen bottoms, but either is going to be a job, given the size of these hives. I'll also have to get going with the patties and Apivar soon.
Here is one revelation that is confirmed in multiple surveys as I recall. This news runs counter to the babble in the media and the beliefs of most people these days.
The above refers to only obvious and terminal starvation.
When I was looking for information about humidity and came across the Bee Informed National Management Survey 2010-2011 again. This study came up with some very provocative results, and, to some extent, inspired my Myths talk. Here are just a few gems...
All fixed set
patterns are incapable of adaptability or pliability.
Saturday March 28th 2015
I woke up early today, at 0530, and had breakfast.
I am resolved not to spend the day indoors. We'll see how that goes. I think I'll begin by going back to bed. I did just that and slept another hour.
Next: today breakfast is at The Mill, and I suppose I'll go over. After that, I'll take a look at my bees, I suppose.
I'll gather some bees for nosema test, too, and borrow my 'scope back. If I do find nosema, I won't treat, though unless it is terrible which I doubt. I have real doubts about fumagillin.
I went to The Mill and had breakfast with the gang, then returned home. I stopped at Bert's on the way and he, Maddy and I looked at his hive which seems to be doing well. The hive is up on a hayrack and hard to reach. It is a double, with two shallows on top and seems heavy. Bees have cleaned the floor and are patrolling the upper auger hole. He has put in Apivar, but we discussed that the strips must be near the brood and he will adjust them when it is warmer.
It is cool today. The temperature is plus six, but there is a 6 MPH breeze and it is spitting rain. I think I'll put of the bee work until tomorrow when sun is predicted.
Below are shots of the local native dwarf poplars and at right, the Northwest poplars budding.
I really liked my Nexus 4. Except for the weak glass back that broke three times, it was the best phone I ever had.
The Nexus 5 is turning out to be even better. It is slimmer, larger in surface, with a very bright screen. The battery seems to last well enough and Chris gave me an inductive charger on which I lay the phone when at my desk, so it recharges without plugging in.
Believe those who
are seeking the truth. Doubt those who find it.
Sunday March 29th 2015
I woke up from a dream at 0408 and realised that I was not going back to sleep.
So began another day.
At 0549, it is plus one outside with a 4 MPH wind from the SSW. The day promises to reach plus seventeen, which is just about room temperature, but with a 30/50 KPH wind this afternoon. It'll be a great day for kiting or windsurfing, but I am committed to working on my bees. Maddy will come over since she wants to learn bees. The wind should not be too bad north of the hedge.
In preparation for spring work, I suppose I need to look back on last year and see what I was doing. That winter was one of the worst in memory, so things were different. This past winter has been an easy one. Nonetheless, looking back over recent years reminds me of things that are easily forgotten.
I see now that I am a week behind last year.
I see now that I did not post a link to Myths here, but did offer it in the forum. It seems I do a lot of writing there lately. Here are links to the discussion and the presentation:
I went out at 1000 and began organizing. I'm out of condition for this and the exercise should whip me into shape. It is only thirteen degrees out with a fourteen MPH wind and I am already finding it too warm.
I combined the weak hive with the drone layer, so I count one (or two, if you prefer) dead out of twenty. All survivors are very good so far, including a single that somehow was wintered with a wide-open entrance.
Ideally, there should be nectar above brood in such frames. This is a reminder that honey in the hive does not necessarily mean honey in the bees.
Right about now a little sugar syrup would be beneficial, but I am not set up to feed.
I also saw brood being raised on a frame with partially drawn foundation (left), and almost mature (tan) drone pupae in burr comb between boxes (right). This means that in theory, at least, I could begin queen rearing before long! I saw no sign of varroa in these pupae.
I rested and ate supper, then went out for an hour or two to do some cleanup. The Quonset Yard was left as a bit of a mess and had late splits. There are at least four deadouts there, some of which were dead last summer.
I see that robbing is picking up a bit, so I closed up the holes and am going to put on entrance reducers tomorrow morning. A bit of robbing is useful in cleaning out poor colonies, but if it goes too far, it can be a real issue with fighting and damage to good hives.
The entrance reducers may cut the ventilation down, too, and raise the humidity. I don't see any condensation water on the pillows these days, and bees need water.
It feels good to get out and do some work. There is a lot to do.
What if nothing
exists and we're all in somebody's dream?
Monday March 30th 2015
I slept until 0730. I'm not suffering any aches or pains in spite of having putting in fairly heavy first bee day.
I first awoke at 0400, with a bit of congestion that roused me several more times before I finally woke up and got out of bed. I wonder if the congestion comes from working bees yesterday. There seems to be no rhyme or reason to it.
Today, I plan to clean up the Quonset Yard. I'll begin by putting on entrance reducers and closing unnecessary auger holes to forestall robbing in the coming week.
I heard crows yesterday and am hearing geese right now.
Ruth came by for her computer this morning. She had accidentally turned off the touchpad and, not knowing what was wrong, brought it and left it the other night, so I had checked it out, enabled the touchpad, and done some general housekeeping tasks for her.
I reserved my BC flight this morning.
The delay and late reservation cost me an extra $100 or so, but somewhere in my mind I was undecided about going, and it seems and I half-expected something to change my plans. Part of the extra cost is a flexible return date and free bags, so it is not all bad. Now it is settled. One week on Cassiopeia, coming up.
I had only ten Apivar strips left today and went out to work on the hives. I'm working on the Quonset yard right now and had finished fifteen hives by 1400, including three deadouts and a drone layer. Twelve hives now stand where there were fifteen. Twenty percent loss on this row. Fourteen percent on the thirty-five I have worked over so far.
Fifteen percent was what I considered normal winter loss back when I ran thousands.
I came back in and had a rest. If I had more strips, I would have done more, but once in, I did not feel like going back out.
Meijers are coming for supper. I missed them earlier and am going away Wednesday, so we'll meet tonight.
I hope that improves my mood. I'm grumpy today in spite of some bee sting therapy.
Oh, wait. That's wrong. Bee stings cure arthritis, not crankiness. Everyone knows that!
Why am I being such a curmudgeon and spoiling everyone's fun?
I'm just paying it forward. I was just as gullible as anyone when I began and if people like Dr. Don Peer, Steve Tabor and others had not taken the time to tell me things I did not want to hear, my bee career probably would have gone very differently. As it was, I was not the best listener, but people persisted.
* * * * *
By "the link you included", I think he/she (what's with pseudonyms [and gender pronouns for that matter] anyhow?) means Tony Jadzek's talk at the NJBA Winter Meeting, mentioned on slide 50 here. I linked to it because it is a great talk by an accomplished bee man and speaker. Karen recommended it to me when I mentioned that Tony had told me the whole story at dinner in Sacramento one night. Knowing Dave as I did, I found it a credible explanation.
As for changing brood comb, knock yourself out, but when I open my hives after a winter as I did today and yesterday, where are the bees clustered and raising brood in the best hives that happen to have multiple ages and styles of comb?
Correct! The oldest comb in the box.
I don't listen to people so much, but I sure do listen to my bees.
As always, follow the money. As I mentioned on one of my slides -- in vain it seems -- bee manufacturers spend a lot of money to convince us to buy, buy, buy. Apparently lots of people, including opinion leaders are taken in by this blarney.
Can't hurt? Hurt whom? Not the manufacturers or the publishers.
Might help? Might not! It's your money. Drink the Kool Aid. There is no way to ever know if it helps, but I know it costs time, money and bee labour up front.
Everything has its cost: old comb may have its cost (no way of knowing for sure), but drawing new comb definitely does cost money, time and crop -- and we lose the proven advantages of the old combs.
Did I mention that I am really really grumpy these days and not in the mood for any more BS? Grrrrr.
* * * * *
I had a pleasant supper with my friends as always. My ad hoc chicken casserole turned out even better than I had hoped. The squash was delicious and the al dente brown/red rice mixture was as good as always. I forgot to cook and serve the broccoli. Pineapple chunks were the dessert.
stumbling from failure to failure with no loss of enthusiasm.
Tuesday March 31st 2015
I drank coffee at supper last night and although it seldom keeps me awake, least night, it did. I had trouble getting to sleep and it was after 0200 that I finally fell asleep, then I slept soundly through to 0830.
I won't waste much time here at the keyboard this morning. The day is already warm enough to go out and get started. I have enough Apivar to do the rest of the hives at this point. There is little chance I can do them all in the time I have available, but I shall do what I can.
I always review the past few days entries in the mornings and correct where necessary. Even then, I miss typos until much later.
Today, I notice several apparent inconsistencies.
At times, I do seemingly contradict myself and unless I realise it and take the effort to explain, people must be left puzzled. "He said this, then he said the opposite."
Now to get moving.
I have been out an hour and came in to get some things like a wide scraper for top bars and fresh water for my water bucket. All have done so far is unload the truck and rearrange brood chambers stored on one of my trailers.
The thermometer reads plus sixteen and the wind is blowing seventeen MPH. I've had to strip down to just shorts and my bee suit. I don't wear the bee suit as protection from bees so much as a comfortable work suit that protects me from sun, honey and wax.
At 1126, I'm about to go out again and hope to get working on the bees. First, though, I have to organize some more so that I am not wasting motion.
It has occurred to me now that, ironically, the target audience for Myths is exactly the sort of experienced beekeeper who wrote saying, "I would be disappointed to sit through this.", and says the he/she will continue to rotate combs superstitiously because people who don't share in the loss that destroying a beekeeper's most precious asset -- drawn comb -- entails say it "might" help.
I'm spitting into the wind.
That said, I am a huge proponent of electron-beam radiation and was an -- if not the -- early advocate for the process in Alberta. It has changed beekeeping here drastically. Commercial operations with 10,000 hives which used to treat prophylacticly with antibiotics and still see three to five percent AFB now find only a few cases a year without any antibiotic use and only culling of combs which no longer serve well for brood due to mice, drone comb, cell thickness, damages frames, excess weight due to cocoon buildup, etc...
That one thing -- radiation -- has done more than anything else to reduce AFB to negligible proportions in Alberta. And, no, no commercial beekeeper I know changes gloves or washes hive tools between hives, let alone between yards. That is just plain dumb.
Back to rotating combs: If you have AFB and are unwilling to use the magic bullet that banishes it forever (as far as I can tell, three years after introducing badly infested comb in an experiment) with a one-time treatment with three weekly recommended doses, do it. The magic AFB bullet is Tylosin.
Well, it is now 1201 and I am really going out this time...
At 1413, I am back in to get a few more things. So far, I have left five hives standing and deleted two drone more layers. The hives in this spot are weak and maybe a waste of time, but the job has to be done. I'm also stacking deadouts and equipment that has been scattered around here as I go, and that slows me down.
The wind is now gusting from the south at at 30 MPH, but the yards are not too breezy.
I'm back in at 1748. I finished the Quonset Yard and came in for supper. The wind continues to blow, drying out the countryside. Predictions are for cooler weather tomorrow with a high of five and rain. While I am gone, the predictions are for a few warm days, but most will be cool, warming again when I return.
Only fourteen more hives stand treated, checked and fed with two patties , than the tally this morning, for a total of forty live hives now done. I have picked up about eight deadouts so far. This yard was pretty poor last summer and I did nothing here after August, so some were dead before winter.
The yard is neater, but I did not accomplish as much as I hoped.
I had supper and watched video, then went to bed early, at 2130.
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